Trying to choose a baby carrier and keen on getting one that’s suitable for breastfeeding?
It’s best to choose a baby carrier or sling for everyday use, then work out how to feed in it – rather than the other way round. Many brands will put ‘perfect for breastfeeding’ on the box – but there’s no guarantee attached to that claim. There is no such thing as the ‘best’ sling to breastfeed in: you can breastfeed in any baby wrap and almost all baby carriers. (Anything with an internal harness, e.g. the BabyBjorn Carrier One, is harder to breastfeed in).
Ring slings are often touted as one of the ‘best’ slings for breastfeeding. They can be GREAT – though most parents find there’s a bit of a knack to using them, so it will take some practice. As it’s a one-shouldered sling that tends to be used for quick up-and-downs, most parents are more likely to get a ring sling as well as an everyday, conventional two-shoulders baby carrier or wrap.
In fact, all types of baby carrier can help with breastfeeding, thanks to all the oxytocin that starts flowing when you hold your baby close! But no carrier is MAGICALLY going to suddenly make breastfeeding a doddle if you’re still working at it. Most mums will benefit from breastfeeding support at some point on the journey; do check out La Leche League for phone and online advice and in-person support.
How easy it is to feed in a sling or carrier depends on many factors: Your baby’s latch, their age, the size of your breasts, the position of your nipples, the length of your baby compared to the length of your torso…. it really is an art , not a science!
If you’ve got a baby carrier with buckles or clips (e.g. Ergobaby, Tula Baby, Izmi Bay, Manduca etc) it’s usually easiest to feed with your baby upright. Loosen all the buckles, shuffle your baby down and guide your breast to your baby. You’ll need a top that can be pulled down or unbuttoned for easy access.
You might also be able to feed like this in a stretchy wrap; how much loosening a re-tightening you’ll need to do will vary between mums/babies. If you prefer to feed with your baby in a more horizontal position, you might want to use a ring sling, stretchy wrap or woven wrap.
REMEMBER: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BREASTFEED IN A SLING! In those early weeks, it probably going to be more hassle than it’s worth. Once breastfeeding is well-established – this might be a few weeks or a few months – it becomes much easy to breastfeed in a sling – even while you’re walking!
There is no hands-free breastfeeding option for a newborn. You’ll still need at least one hand/arm to support your baby – at least until they can hold on themselves (often from around 6months+) But having one hand free is better than no hands, right?
If you can, it’s best to wait until you’re reasonably comfy and confident using your sling; and reasonably comfy and confident breastfeeding; before you try and combine the two.
In the meantime the best ‘position’ for feeding is likely to be on a chair, bed or soft, with lots of cushions, water, cake, your mobile phone and the TV remote.
If you have other children who need looking after, or an unavoidably busy home or work life, and you feel like you NEED TO FEED IN A SLING RIGHT NOW: Please get in touch and book a video consultation with us (£15/30mins) so we can advise you on what carrier option will work best for your body shape, your baby’s age, and your family’s needs.
Baby Carriers with Buckles
Here’s more advice on babywearing safety.